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Wimax Report - Expanding the potential of wireless services in the US using the 3.65GHz band

Wimax Report - Expanding the potential of wireless services in the US using the 3.65GHz band

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Published by Ari Zoldan
For wireless broadband operators, the availability of affordable, clean spectrum in which they can deploy the most advanced technologies is critical to their success.
Until recently, operators in the US have faced spectrum restrictions that have limited the market growth of wireless broadband services. License-exempt bands in the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies have been successfully used by many operators, but interference has increasingly become an issue, especially for Point to Multipoint (PMP) networks. In these bands, operators face interference not only from other operators, but also from consumer devices (microwaves, phones, residential Wireless Local Area Network [WLAN] hardware, etc.) that make it difficult to manage interference successfully.
For wireless broadband operators, the availability of affordable, clean spectrum in which they can deploy the most advanced technologies is critical to their success.
Until recently, operators in the US have faced spectrum restrictions that have limited the market growth of wireless broadband services. License-exempt bands in the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies have been successfully used by many operators, but interference has increasingly become an issue, especially for Point to Multipoint (PMP) networks. In these bands, operators face interference not only from other operators, but also from consumer devices (microwaves, phones, residential Wireless Local Area Network [WLAN] hardware, etc.) that make it difficult to manage interference successfully.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Ari Zoldan on Apr 08, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/11/2014

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Expanding the potential of wirelessbroadband services in the US using the3.65GHz band
 
CONSULTING
 
SENZAFILI
Monica PaoliniSenza Fili ConsultingSeptember 2008
For wireless broadband operators, the availabilityof affordable, clean spectrum in which they candeploy the most advanced technologies is criticalto their success.Until recently, operators in the US have facedspectrum restrictions that have limited the marketgrowth of wireless broadband services. License-exempt bands in the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHzfrequencies have been successfully used by manyoperators, but interference has increasinglybecome an issue, especially for Point to Multipoint(PMP) networks. In these bands, operators faceinterference not only from other operators, butalso from consumer devices (microwaves, phones,residential Wireless Local Area Network [WLAN]hardware, etc.) that make it difficult to manageinterference successfully.The other two bands that are available in manymarkets are 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz. The 2.5GHz bandis available in the US, but it is largely controlled bylarge operators—mostly by Clearwire, Sprint, andAT&T. In most countries, wireless broadbandoperators have access to licensed spectrum in the3.5-3.7GHz band—along with a large choice of commercial equipment, because this is thelicensed band most widely used for fixedbroadband services. In the US, wireless operatorswere not able to use this band until the end of 2007.The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)recognized the spectrum limitations that USoperators faced, and introduced an innovativelicensing scheme in the 3.65GHz band. It isdesigned to unlock the market potential forwireless services and widen the availability of broadband to underserved areas in the country.The newly available spectrum is subject to lightlicensing: licenses are not exclusive, and they areeasy and inexpensive to obtain. In many ways, the3.65GHz band promises to combine most of theadvantages of unlicensed bands with substantiallylower, manageable levels of interference.While the light-licensing scheme used for the3.65GHz band is still largely untested because of its recent introduction, the results so far are veryencouraging. Commercial equipment based onWorldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access(WiMAX) with the necessary FCC approval is nowavailable from multiple vendors. In some caseswhere vendors have invested in InteroperabilityTesting (IOT), operators can use interoperable gearfrom different vendors within the same network.As of September 2008, 420 operators nationwidehave applied for or received a license, and some of 
 
White Paper
Expanding the potential of wireless broadband services in the US using the 3.65GHz band
 
them have launched commercial services usingWiMAX-based equipment.Wireless operators have welcomed the availabilityof the spectrum in the 3.65GHz band because itallows them to better serve their existing andprospective clients, to extend coverage, or to startnew deployments in a cost-effective way. This ispossible because, in addition to the low levels of interference, the 3.65GHz band has goodpropagation characteristics that enable Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) operations. This results in lowerdeployment costs and better coverage.The additional benefit of the 3.65GHz band is thatit brings wireless operators access to WiMAX-based technology, which before now was availableonly for licensed spectrum. WiMAX supportsimproved spectral efficiency, lower per-bit costs,and Quality of Service (QoS) for carrier-grade voiceservices and enterprise Service Level Agreements(SLAs). As WiMAX equipment is deployedworldwide, operators can expect to reap theadvantages of economies of scale—lowerequipment prices and wider choice of vendors andproducts—even though equipment for the USmarket has to be slightly modified to meet thedomestic regulatory requirements.This paper provides an overview of theopportunities for wireless operators in the3.65GHz band in the US. It starts with a discussionof the key regulatory requirements and theavailable technology options, and continues withtwo case studies of operators (Nex-Tech and RapidLink) that have successfully launched commercialservices in the 3.65GHz band.
The FCC regulatory framework forthe 3.65GHz band
Licensing in the 3.65GHz band and FCC productcertification both started in 2007, with the firstcommercial deployments announced in 2008
Chronology
1984
Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) space-to-earthstations allowed to operate in the 3.65GHZband, alongside government and non-government radiolocation services.
2000
Fixed and mobile terrestrial services allowed inthe 3.65GHz, coexisting with existing FSS andradiolocation stations.
2005
Nonexclusive licensing scheme adopted forterrestrial services, with the requirement thatbase stations support a contention protocol thatminimizes interference. The contention protocol,however, was not specified.
2007
“Restricted” and “unrestricted” contentionprotocols defined.
2007
First 3.65GHz base station certified.
Table 1. Chronology 
(Table 1).Table 2summarizes the key licensing provisions for the band.The FCC’s goal was to create a band with low entrycosts and minimal regulatory delays to enablemultiple wireless operators to roll out services,while keeping interference at a minimum. In tryingto find a compromise between expensive, difficult-to-obtain licensed spectrum and interference-prone unlicensed spectrum, the FCC decided toadopt a nonexclusive licensing scheme with acontention protocol requirement.Under the nonexclusive licensing scheme, there isno limit to the number of operators that can obtaina nationwide license. The implicit expectation isthat each operator will focus on selectedgeographical areas and that this will preventspectrum overcrowding. Obtaining a license in the3.65GHz spectrum is a fast and straightforwardprocess that can be completed at any time withminimal cost (210 USD).To manage interference, the FCC uses two tools: arequirement that operators “make any effort”necessary to minimize harmful interference, andthe adoption of a contention protocol. All
© 2008 Senza Fili Consulting • www.senzafiliconsulting.com
 
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White Paper
Expanding the potential of wireless broadband services in the US using the 3.65GHz band
 
operators with a license are required to registertheir base station locations with the ULS (UniversalLicensing System) prior to deployment, and toappropriately coordinate operations to minimizeinterference. Operators that deploy first in a givenarea do not enjoy any first-to-market advantageover operators coming on later. They are allrequired to collaborate to find a solution thatenables multiple operators to coexist.Furthermore, base station registration allows newentrants in a market to evaluate spectrumavailability—as well as market potential—based onthe base stations already installed. This may turnout to be the most effective tool in preventingspectrum (and market) overcrowding. In mostmarkets, there is effectively room for only one ortwo operators to roll out services profitably in theband. In this sense, early operators enjoy asubstantial advantage and may effectively stopothers from entering the market, unless they arenot successful at attracting or retaining customers.The adoption of a contention protocol to manageinterference has attracted a lot of criticism fromoperators and vendors alike, especially as the FCCinitially had not defined what the contentionprotocol was. In 2007, the FCC issued aclarification that opened the door to equipmentcertification, but there is still considerableuncertainty about which contention protocols willbe allowed by the FCC.The FCC has defined two types. A restrictedcontention protocol manages interference amongdevices using the same wireless interface. WiMAXqualifies as implementing a restricted contentionprotocol, as multiple subscriber devices cancoexist within the same network, and multiplenetworks can coordinate operations to minimizeinterference. All products certified by the FCC todate support restricted contention protocols.Unrestricted contention protocols work acrossmultiple wireless air interfaces. The FCC definessuch a protocol as one that “can avoid co-frequency interference with devices using all othertypes of contention-based protocols.”
Key licensing provisions for the 3.65GHz band
Spectrumband
Restricted contention protocol: 3.65-3.675 GHz.Unrestricted contention protocol: 3.65-3.7 GHz.
Multiplexing
Time Division Duplexing (TDD).
Channelbandwidth
None fixed. Operator can decide channelbandwidth.
Peak powerlimits
Base station and outdoor subscriberdevice (fixed): 25 Watts per 25MHzchannel, with 1 Watt per MHz of bandwidth used.Subscriber device, indoor (“mobiledevice,” in FCC terminology): 1 Watt per25MHz channel.
Certificationrequired
FCC certification ensures that basestations and subscriber equipmentimplement an approved contentionprotocol.
Geographicavailability
All national territory with the exclusion of areas surrounding about 100grandfathered earth satellite stations(150km radius) and the federalgovernment’s radiolocation stations(80km radius), unless satellite operatorsor the federal government givepermission to operators to deploy basestations in the area. As a result, 3.65GHzcoverage is not allowed in many East andWest Coast urban areas.
Licensingrequirements
Operators need to obtain a nonexclusive,nationwide license first. Each basestation deployed has to be registered inthe ULS database to facilitate cooperationamong operators active in the same area.
Table 2. Key licensing provisions for the 3.65GHz band 
The “listen-before-you-talk” protocol used by Wi-Fi is the most commonly cited example of anunrestricted contention protocol. While a listen-before-you-talk protocol can limit the impact of interference, it carries significant overheadrequirements that can dramatically affect the
© 2008 Senza Fili Consulting • www.senzafiliconsulting.com
 
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